Thursday, October 30, 2014

title pic 1950s Dress Sew-Along Results – Butterick 4790 Retro

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 4, 2011

At last our 1950s walkaway dresses are finished!  I have so much enjoyed this 1950s sew-along, and I hope you all have as well!  For those of us who are not quite done with the sew-along, I am still happy to answer any questions you may have, and look forward to seeing pictures of the results! 

So this week I am posting pictures of my finished Butterick 4790 Walkaway dress, and any of you who wish to can link to your photos in the comments section.  If you don’t have a blog but still want to share your 1950s dress pictures, just send them to me via email and I will see if I can attach them at the end of this post. 

Without further ado, here are the pictures of my latest pink 1950s party dress….:


Here is my pink 1950s "party" dress! Pink rayon, pink roses on the matte satin, and pink rosettes on the 1950s headpiece!

I am so happy with how my new dress turned out, and it is always interesting to see how each type of fabric changes the way these 1950s dresses look, even though I use the exact same version of Butterick 4790 every time! 


Roses on the dress and roses in the background...

Instead of sewing buttons down the front of the wraparound piece, I decided to just close it the usual way (with snaps on the inside), and sew narrow lace trim into half of a heart shape on either side of the center front.  The reason I incorporated the lacy heart into this dress is in celebration of National Sewing Month, when seamstresses are encouraged to enter heart-themed designs to the national contest.  Since Ronald Reagan announced in 1982 that September was National Sewing Month, home sewers all over the country have made a point of celebrating this wonderful pastime which has played such an important role in the development of the US of A.  Without a doubt, the women who sewed at home were a large part of America’s success, whether they were those brave women on the prairie who sewed everything from quilts to gowns, the Victorian upper class who spent their leisure hours embroidering, the brave mothers during the Great Depression who made their daughters dresses out of feed sacks, or the 1950s housewives who saved their families’ money by sewing their own clothing. 

The bottom of this skirt rather reminds me of a rose, too! It was the perfect setting to have this dress photographed.

I threw together the 1950s headpiece the night before these pictures were taken, and I thought it added so much to the ensemble!  I just used a crinoline frame I had made, covered it with a cream taffeta, machine-stitched swirls of ivory ribbons on the front, and added three fabric roses in varying sizes to the headpiece.  For a finishing touch I wore a birdcage veil in front of it which I pulled back so the Russian netting covered the front of the headpiece.  As far as the inspiration for this is concerened, I modeled it after a very similar shaped hat that Lucille Ball had worn for some of her most famous “I Love Lucy” episodes.  And if you look at the pattern cover for Butterick 4790, you will notice the white headband/headpiece that the red-haired lady in the white and black dress is wearing has a very similar shape. 


These pictures were taken at one of my favorite locations in the whole world, Portland’s International Rose Test Gardens.  Founded at the height of the Edwardian era, these gardens became a safe haven for European rose species whose futures were threatened by the bombs of World War II.  Throughout the war years many of England’s endangered rose plants were transported to the Pacific Northwest and replanted in Oregon’s fertile soil where they still thrive today. 

But back to 1950s dressesHere are a couple more closing shots of this dress, which may be my favorite of the three I have sewn so far.  

You can see more pictures of this dress on the Edelweiss Patterns Facebook page, where I’ve shared a whole album of 1950s pictures that I didn’t have room for here


The skirt on this dress was so full and "swooshy" with the crinoline petticoat underneath.


If you haven’t already worn your dress around town, I would encourage you to dress up one day and see what kind of response you get while doing your usual activities!  The first day I wore my orange 1950s dress out, I heard constant exclamations of surprise almost non-stop!  Some older ladies who work at a store I frequent (and who are usually not the least bit friendly) were suddenly delighted I was there and insisted I turn around so they could see the whole dress.  Women I had never even met launched into fifteen minute speeches about how very authentic my ensemble was and how it reminded them exactly of how they dressed when they were in high school in the 50s.  Younger girls were equally as excited about the vintage inspired outfit, and I could hardly walk anywhere very quickly since I was constantly getting stopped by people asking about the dress! 

One lady told me I looked as if I “belonged on top of a cake”, and not a few people were amazed to hear I had sewn it, when it was actually a very quick dress to sew.  Everywhere I went people went away in a better mood after seeing the dress, which leads me to wonder if it might help cheer everyone up if ladies went back to wearing beautiful dresses every once in a while.  Of course I am not suggesting that this sort of outfit is practical every day, and to be honest I wear pants at least 90% of the time, but I do think there is something to be said for dressing up now and then! 

It just feels so nice to walk along with a full skirt swishing when you move, and to feel very elegant even if it’s not a special occasion!  Thank you all for participating in this sew-along, and for giving me a very good reason to sew another 1950s dress from the classic Butterick pattern!

But just because this sew-along has come to an end does not mean it is the end of my blogging about 1950s fashions!  On the contrary, I have recently been studying all four versions of this pattern, (the 1950s version, 1960s, 1999, and 2006), to see how the patterns and sizes changed throughout the decades.  In addition, I look forward to posting pictures of a recent 50s apron I drafted off of an original vintage find, and sharing some Fall 1950s fashion articles that I’ve scanned from a newly-acquired magazine.   And my favorite pattern company, Sense & Sensibility, took a recent pattern survey that makes me hope they may release a 1950s pattern in the upcoming months.  If that is the case, you can be sure I will post about it here! 

 And here is a tutorial for how to do a classic 1950s hairstyle which was graciously shared from the ladies at Lipstick and Curls .  This vintage make-up and hair business (based out of the UK) shows some beautiful hairstyles on their website, and they have generously permitted me to show the following hair tutorial. : 

1950’s Classic set

There are many different ways you can set your hair and so many products now available to us on the market. Most achieve similar results and most women have a preference to which are easier to use.

Heated Rollers – Heated rollers are a quick and easy option and widely available new and old (I see so many at car boots these day for only a couple of pounds). Try not to choose a barrel that is too large, it is better to achieve a tighter curl and to stretch and brush it out than to start with a loose wave that will be completely unmanageable. Always wind under and never use these on wet or damp hair, as they won’t dry your hair, dry hair only with perhaps a light mouse for setting.

Plastic Rollers – Very similar although more time consuming. Be prepared to allow yourself anything from a couple of hours to a whole day! Hair must be damp and a setting lotion can be applied. If you have a hairdryer hood this will speed up the process. A very effective method of curling.

 Hot Sticks – These funny bendy sticks were almost impossible to get unless you hunted them down on ebay at a high price. Thankfully Babyliss have relaunched this classic styling tool and they are now widely available to us all. This is the fastest method of curling in my experience although it can be a bit tricky. Again dry hair and winding small sections under.

 Classic Pin Curl - This is what our starlets would have used and it I still very effective today. Take a small piece of hair and either tong and pin in place of if on damp hair you can wind hair up and pin and sleep overnight. Most girls find thisan easier look to do as a scarf can be worn and the curls easily disguised. When your curls are ready and the rollers removed you then need to brush into shape. Don’t be afraid to brush through, as a good curl will be easy to shape. Keep brushing until you have the desired look then finally spray or pin to hold the style. ~


For the last months I have been finishing the design for "Maria's Gazebo Dress" from the Sound of Music, and I love the delicate finished product!

For the next couple of weeks the majority of my time will be spent in seeing that my next pattern for Maria’s Sound of Music dress is released, but after that the schedule should free up so I can keep sharing the projects I’ve been working on! 

And as always, happy sewing!


title pic Week 3 of the 1950s Dress Sew-Along

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 29, 2011

Week 3 of the Butterick Retro Pattern 4790 Sew-Along!

butterick-4790-original-advertisement           Hello Ladies!  This week we will finish sewing our Butterick 4790 50s dresses!  If you have not finished all the previous steps mentioned in Week 1 and Week 2, don’t worry – you can post the link to your finished dress pictures whenever you like.

So at this point our dresses are all assembled, they just need the finishing touches such as the raw edges finished, the snaps put on, and the skirt hemmed.   

Bias Binding

You have two options for binding your dress.  The first option is to fold the double-fold binding over the raw edge and stitch in place as your pattern instructions call for.  The method I prefer to use makes the bias binding be visible only on the inside, which looks a lot less “homemade” in my opinion.  Of course you may have different preferences depending on what material you are sewing with, but below I am illustrating the method I’ve used on all the 1950s dresses I’ve sewn.

1. Pin the right side of the bias binding to the right side of the dress. 

          2.Stitch in place, with the needle hitting the binding right through the fold line. 

          3. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/4″.  Press the seam flat, then press the seam open.

              4. Finally, turn the bias binding to the wrong side of the dress and press.  Pin in place and stitch the binding to the inside using either a machine or handstitch.  On my orange 1950s dress I finished the entire garment with tiny hand stitching, but on both later versions of Butterick 4790 I used a decorative machine embroidery stitch which went much faster!

                            5. Once the binding is sewn, press it one more time to smooth out any “bubbles”. 

That’s it!  I love working with bias binding since it maneuvers so easily around the curves and gives a fast, clean finish to raw edges.  As the pattern instructs, you will use your bias binding to finish the neckline, armhole side edges, and the vertical skirt opening edges.  To be entirely honest, I actually don’t bind the vertical skirt edges, since I usually buy as few notions as possible.  : )  Of course you can do whatever you prefer, but I only bind the neckline and that one long curve from the center back to the center front.  Then I serge the side edges of the front piece (that ends up closing in the back), and the side edges of the circle skirt I hem by machine or hand.  Note: Before you bind or hem your vertical edges, you need to try on the dress to make sure it is very fitted in the bodice.  If it is too loose, you can just make a wider hem down the center front opening to pull the edges together. 


After turning the bias binding to the inside of the fabric, I stitched it in place using a decorative machine stitch.

Snap Closure



Now you can sew your snaps and buttons in place!  Here again, I do this just a little differently than what the Butterick instructions suggest. 

         For the front piece that closes in the back, I simply sew either a snap or a hook and eye to the respective edges which closes very quickly in back without any lumps from a button.  You’ll notice that the pattern instructions calls for making a button loop out of the bias binding on one side and sewing a button to the other side, but not only is this method a bit tricky to make (with the loop fitting the button exactly), it also can add more bulk to the dress in back.  (You don’t want it to be obvious that there’s a button underneath the waist seam!) 

For the back piece that wraps around to the front, you just sew three sets of snaps going vertically down the center front closure.  Once you have the snaps properly closed, you can sew three or four decorative buttons right over the top on the right side of the fabric.  This is such an easy way to get a “buttonhole” look without all the work of actually making buttonholes! (But before you sew your snaps on, you will need to try on the dress to make sure it is as fitted as you like.)


Hem Your Dress!

This is the last step!  After your dress has been hanging for at least three days, mark the hem and cut off any uneven edges.  If you have a dressform, simply fasten the dress on the mannequin just as you will wear it and mark an even distance all the way around.  If not, you can have a friend mark it for you while you wear it.   You can hem it by machine or hand, but my favorite method is just to serge or tightly zigzag the bottom edge without turning it up at all.  This is because a circular hem will always have a little too much fullness to lay quite as flat as I like.  Surprisingly, the over locked edge has looked great on all the 1950s dresses I’ve made, and creates a dainty finish for such a flared, flowing skirt.


The serger stitching gives the hem a bit of a ruffled look.

    Congratulations!  You just made an authentic 1950s walkaway dress!  Of course this is just the basic dress, and there are many decorative touches you can add to spruce it up. 

  •  Consider wearing a ribbon belt around the waist like I did with my cotton 1950s day dress,
  • or pin a flower at the waist or towards the neckline.   When I wore my orange 1950s dress (with the white flower accent) to the store, a sweet old lady said, “You look just like we used to dress in the 50s – we highschool girls had a different flower for every outfit!”
  • One of the most popular accents of the day was a wide, vinyl belt over their tightly-fitted bodices.   
  •  Another idea for embellishing this dress is to put a small ribbon bow at the neckline,
  • or to sew a ruffle of contrasting tulle to the inside of the dress hem for a classy 1950s party dress look!   
  • Do a Google search for “1950s Dresses” or look through some of the patterns at for more ideas on how to embellish your 1950s dress! 
  •  And if you’re going for the “1950s housewife” look, there’s nothing more appropriate to accesorize your dress with than a vintage apron!


So now that our dresses are finished, we will have our “1950s Dress Party” next week where everyone can link to their pictures of the walkaway dresses (on a blog, Flickr, etc.)  You are also welcome to email me pictures if you’d like me to include them in next week’s post. 


My 1950s dress is nearly done, so now I just have to decide where to have it photographed!

Let’s try to think of some creative photo shoots for classy or retro themed pictures!  You might want to have the pictures taken in a retro-themed diner, in front of a 1950s bungalow, or in an elegant flower garden to make the setting just as lovely as your new dress!  Wearing a 1950s dress is only half the fun, because you’ll look so much more vintage if you wear a crinoline petticoat, vintage hat, and some white gloves to complete the look!  So curl your hair, put on your high heels, and really go all out for this!  If your hair is shoulder length or shorter, it will be so easy to reproduce a 1950s hairstyle.  If it’s longer, you can style an elegant up-do or curled ponytail.  I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!   


 Happy sewing,




title pic Butterick Royal Wedding Dress Pattern for Catherine’s Gown

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 23, 2011

Butterick Patterns Releases a Princess Catherine Wedding Dress Pattern!


Copyright Butterick Patterns, 2011.

Ever since the royal wedding festivities in April, I have been waiting to see one of the “Big Four” pattern companies release a “royal wedding dress pattern” for Princess Catherine’s bridal gown.  And at last one of them has!  Butterick Patterns has just released their latest wedding dress design, BP249 which is very close to the original Sarah Burton design and makes a wonderful replica of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress!  This bridal gown pattern is clearly a “knock-off” of Princess Catherine’s wedding gown, though there are some obvious differences in the back which make it easier to sew.   A few months ago I studied  how one could combine separate patterns to achieve the Princess Catherine look, and while you may still want to read to study all the design details, this pattern will greatly simplify the process!


Pattern covers are copyright Butterick Patterns, 2011.

The royal wedding has so inspired future brides that Butterick Patterns has released not one, but three dress patterns inspired by William and Catherine’s wedding!  Besides the royal wedding dress pattern, Butterick has also produced a drapey bias-cut dress pattern (BP250) which is nearly identical to Pippa Middleton’s royal bridesmaid dress pattern (minus the elegant row of buttons down the back closure).  Butterick Patterns used the same model for both patterns, who looks very similar to the royal Middleton sisters. 


Pattern cover is copyright Butterick Patterns, 2011.

 The attention to detail that Butterick showed for their photo shoots is impressive.  For Princess Catherine’s wedding dress pattern, we see a lovely brunette with the same half-up/half-down hairstyle topped with a replica of the Cartier’ halo tiara and a lace trimmed single layer veil.  At her ears hang diamond earrings which are reminiscent of the acorn earrings which Mr. & Mrs. Middleton commissioned for their daughter Catherine as a wedding gift.  The bridal bouquet she holds has the same simplicity of the original royal bouquet, and we see an enormous sapphire ring (replica of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring) on hands that sport a thin coating of light pink nail polish over short fingernails.  At first glance I actually thought it was Princess Catherine on the front pattern cover! 


Pattern copyright by Butterick Patterns, 2011.

The third royal wedding dress pattern is for the flower girls.  Once again the child model they used bears a striking resemblance to one of the royal wedding participants, and while the dress is a simple, classic style, I’m sure brides-to-be will favor this pattern for Kate Middleton-inspired weddings!


Pattern cover image is copyright by Butterick Patterns, 2011.

As far as the Princess Catherine’s wedding dress pattern is designed, the front is nearly identical, with the same high-necked lace overlay/bolero, sweetheart neckline, and wide pleated skirt.  The Chantilly lace slopes from the high neckline down to the center of the sweetheart curve just as the Sarah Burton gown did, and the sleeves are just as fitted and end in a slight “v” at the wrists.  (For more photos of the original royal wedding dress on display, click here.)

The back of this Butterick wedding dress is different than the original royal wedding dress, and while it is still quite lovely, I might not recognize it for exactly the same bridal gown. 


At center & right is the original Sarah Burton dress, on the left is the Butterick Patterns version.

  • The original dress had wide pleating down the skirt back; the Butterick Pattern 249 has only one small pleat at the back waist.
  • Kate Middleton’s royal wedding gown had an ostentatious train which was approximately 7 feet long, while the Butterick gown pattern has probably no more than a 3 foot train.
  • One of the most notable design elements for the Sarah Burton designed dress was the floucy “bustle” at the back waist of Princess Catherine’s gown.  The newly-released wedding dress pattern doesn’t quite have the same effect, as the separate bustle pieces sewn at the back waist seam lends an more angular, almost triangular feel to the back.
  • Lastly (and this is not a big difference at all), Princess Catherine’s wedding dress had a slight downward curve to the strapless back.  This Butterick pattern has a completely straight strapless back, which is not quite as slenderizing as the original royal wedding gown.

But that being said, many bridal seamstresses may not make an exact replica of the royal wedding dress anyhow, and unless a bride-to-be was very picky (which they often are!), she probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference between the two wedding dress designs at all.  Butterick has done an excellent job reproducing the royal family’s wedding dresses in such a short amount of time, and I’m sure they will be the most popular wedding dress patterns for the next couple years, at least!  Visit to purchase these patterns.